Ten Ways to Sustain Connections Over Time

Top_Ten_ConversationAgent Is there any way you can turn your one message, promotional initiative, one meeting, one time creative into a canvas over which to paint more enduring — and rewarding — engagement?

Does your value come with an expiration date? Would anyone find your proposition interesting over time?

Starting something gets you well on your way, of course. Staying top of mind is where it pays off. From buyers to customers, acquaintances to friends, single contributors to teams, and so on.

There are many reasons why connections happen in real life. Meeting in person makes it easier to keep up with people.

Online and offline, these are ten ways to sustain connections.

1./ Develop a staying in touch habit — in the same way you can get organized with content by creating an editorial calendar, you can build a routine around regular communications with people.

For example, after so many years of doing it, it has now become second nature for me to touch base with 5-7 people I have not talked to in a while per week.

2./ Use your data and intelligence as support — what do you know so far? That includes also data points you can infer from behavior, conversations, past purchases, etc. It's not just the coupon. It really is the thought that counts.

An article that could be of interest can become a visual or another type of information to share on another occasion.

3./ Think and plan around being present — truly, a presence is felt when it's there. It may seem simplistic, yet it works because it is not done much these days. The whole idea of building a community revolves around this point.

With so much going on in people's lives, you really do not know when they will reach out in return. When that happens, you do want to be there for it.

4/ Make it worth it every single time — you probably experienced it at least once with an organization and a couple of times with people. You enjoy spending time with them.

A personal example of this point are those rare people who, no matter when you contact them, are welcoming and giving in their attitude.

5./ Show they are important to you — you can do this by keeping your promises, communicating clearly, setting the proper expectations, over delivering, listening well, and so on. Caring matters, and people feel that.

In this case, talk is cheap when not followed by action. It is much better to demonstrate than it is to pay lip service.

6./ Trust them — reciprocity works to your advantage. And honestly, why would you ask your customers and contacts to trust you when you don't trust them?

You can demonstrate trust by giving people the benefit of the doubt with your actions, for example. 

7./ Initiate relationships — contrast this behavior with the on and off switch of marketing campaigns and you will know what this point means. Once you've initiated contact, maintaining it is where your investment builds the return.

Taking initiative pays off.

8./ Build ongoing opportunities to opt into newness — this has become more popular in the technology and start-up cultures with product alpha and beta testing. It has been a practice in health care to offer monitored drug testing as well.

In the personal sphere, think about how you can invite input in your projects by informing your contacts they have that option regularly.

9./ Offer subscriptions — this is another one that may seem obvious. Whether they are free newsletters and blogs or paid journals, useful original content is one way to build continuity leading to connection-making.

You could also be curating news, collecting topical links, commenting on current events, and so on.

10./ Involve more people in connecting — the secret to success is connecting people. Which means that the more you help others succeed, the better they will recognize, remember, and reward you. This allows you also to develop a multiplying effect in communications.

Plus it is easier to do than continuously needing to be the center of attention.

These are good ways in my experience. How about you? What have you found helpful to sustain connections?

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